(the sad story of) Our First Christmas Tree
This was us last year - having a very, very merry Christmas.
Here's the best (and most beautiful) wife and mother ever, with our first 3, Sarah, Natalie, and Mary (eventually joined by Mickey Jr, Olivia, and Benny).
Our first Christmas was the Christmas of a newly married couple of hippies who had been sweethearts for the previous three years in high school. I was not (am not) at all a very conventional sort, while my lovely wife has always been a very traditional homebody mom and wife.
Now, I assumed, that first Christmas, that we would not be having a tree. I was not at all opposed to celebrating Christmas and I wasn't interested to save money, etc - for me it was a matter of sorting through in my own head the ludicrous scheme before me. Chop down a tree and bring it into your house to celebrate the birth of Jesus . . ? . . it just struck me as such an absurd procedure that I couldn't quite bring myself to participate (I kind of need a logical and practical reason for things - 'everybody does' or 'that's just the way it is' just bounces right off of me).
Now, we didn't have much; little money, no car, no decorations, minimal gifts for each other - but we did have three doggies . . . Dave, Ruth, and Larry. So, Christmas Eve I begin to sense my dear wife does not seem happy . . . this became observably clear when she began to weep. She wanted a Christmas tree. Apparently she had just been going along with my silliness, not wanting to be difficult, but now, at about 10 pm Christmas Eve, my darling was crying for a Christmas tree. So out I ventured into the cold dark night to give my baby our first Christmas tree.
Our last dog, and the best dog ever, Leonard.
Grandma sweetheart with just a few of her grandsons.
Just a block and a half away from our tiny apartment was a gas station selling trees, so I headed that way. Of course, everyone already had their tree and all the tree sales folks were nestled all warm in their beds - the place was dark and deserted. There were only three or four trees left, lying on the ground in a puddle, so I grabbed one by the trunk and, and, and was stopped dead in my tracks - the puddle was frozen solid and was not giving-up this tree. I had to walk back home and get a table knife (the closest thing I had to any manner of tool) and return to hack my wife's tree loose.
. . . and hack and hack and hack. I was on my knees, with a table knife, no gloves, digging away in the dark trying to free a ragged old Christmas tree from an ice puddle in the lot of an abandoned gas station, for at least an hour. By the time I dragged that tree down the road and in the house I was spent - I got a cinder block from the side of the house, put in a corner and stuck the tree in it leaning against the wall. We stuck our couple gifts to each other, and to our puppies, under the tree and went to bed.
What a giant treat when we woke-up in the morning. The great chunks of ice frozen to the back of the tree had melted overnight all over our gifts and the floor and Dave, Ruth, and Larry had tracked it all through the rest of the house - except, it wasn't chunks of ice, it was chunks of frozen mud that was now a great pool of liquid mud under our first Christmas tree and all over our presents and all through our house and all over our dogs. Of course now, we love our first Christmas tree and our first and only Christmas mud puddle - it's one of our great 'those were the days' stories that remind us of who we are, where we've been, and how we've come through all together. Merry Christmas!
Below is just a little clip of a Christmas about 20 years ago . . . so you can see (if you look quickly) at a more recent tree.
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